The principle behind sharia-compliant finance is that certain types of transactions are considered un-Islamic. Notably, interest is not allowed, and funds cannot be spent on certain industries or products such as pork, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, and pornography. Islamic financial tools therefore “purify” individual Muslims by helping them adhere to a more orthodox version of Islam. But it does more: like the wearing of the veil for women, it strengthens their identity as Muslims and weakens their ties to the non-Muslim community. Islamic finance thereby serves to create a parallel society, with a distinct cultural and religious identity, rather than expanding and enriching the existing society.
For the United Kingdom, which is already struggling with no-go zones, numerous counts of domestic Islamist terrorism, and growing tension between its Muslim and non-Muslim populations, one has to ask whether strengthening Muslim identity as something apart from British identity is not a recipe for disaster.